Campos de Esperanza (Fields of Hope)

Project Duration
November 2016
July 2024
Funding and Year

Campos de Esperanza (Fields of Hope) engages the government, the private sector, and civil society to reduce child labor in migrant agricultural communities, particularly in the coffee and sugarcane sectors in Veracruz and Oaxaca. The project links children and youth to existing educational programs and refers vulnerable households to existing government programs to improve income and reduce the need for child labor. Campos de Esperanza also works to strengthen the Mexican government’s capacity to prevent and manage Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown causes and improve working conditions based on regional and international best practices in partnership with the private sector and community-based groups.

The Problem

Approximately 773,000 children work in the production of agricultural goods in Mexico, many of whom are migrant laborers from indigenous communities.  Children travel with their families across the country following agricultural harvest cycles, in some cases returning to their communities of origin only after long periods of absence.  Existing labor law is inconsistently applied to these child laborers and infrequently protects them.  Migrant children are more likely than non-migrant children to engage in agricultural work that involves long working hours, use of sharp tools, extreme temperatures, handling pesticides, and carrying heavy loads. And a significant percentage of children working in agriculture do not attend school, due in part to poor school infrastructure, long distances to reach schools, and limited educational opportunities to meet their needs, including a lack of indigenous language instruction.  This situation contributes to a vicious circle that limits opportunity across generations.

Our Strategy

ILAB has supported efforts in Mexico to combat child labor in agriculture since 2009.  Campos de Esperanza builds off this experience to provide education and protection to migrant families and their children engaged in hazardous and exploitive labor. In the states of Oaxaca and Veracruz, where sugar and coffee are produced, Campos de Esperanza targets children, youth, and households from migrant agricultural communities engaged in or at high risk of engaging in child labor in these sectors. In the states of Chihuahua, Baja California, Jalisco, and Sinaloa, the project works with the private sector to replicate promising practices to address labor violations in the horticulture sector.
To foster positive change for these children and their families, the project incorporates different actors such as government agencies, schools, and employers so that children can leave the field to pursue their education, including through bilingual education. The project also works with the government to utilize high quality and improved tools to monitor and enforce laws related to child labor and agricultural work.   It also collaborates with participating business partners to increase their capacity to reduce child labor, refer families to government social programs, and remediate unacceptable conditions of work in their workplaces and supply chains.

The project’s approach also involves raising awareness to change families’ frequently held beliefs that child labor is either necessary or beneficial and to make them aware of their rights under the law.  The project refers families to viable education alternatives for their children.  It strives to reduce demand for child labor among its chief users, small private landowners, and communal landowners who supply larger companies.


  • Sugarcane sector: During the pandemic, the project partnered with sugar mills to create COVID-19 brigades – a group of specialized staff to implement prevention measures and vaccination campaigns. This action led to low COVID-19 cases among sugarcane cutters and other field staff for the last two harvesting seasons. Given the positive results of the COVID-19 brigades, partnering sugar mills decided to expand the scope of the brigades to address child labor, social security registration, and occupational, safety, and health issues.
  • Coffee sector: the project has created 16 coffee production committees that local authorities have recognized as official interlocutors.  These committees have taken actions to prevent child labor and forced labor, disseminate information regarding agricultural workers’ labor rights, and promote occupational, safety, and health best practices.
  • Horticulture sector: Based on the project’s successes in the coffee and sugar cane sectors, Campos de Esperanza expanded its work to horticulture private sector partners in Sonora, Sinaloa, Baja California, and Jalisco. In these states, the project trained 2,330 workers and producers’ technical staff on child labor, forced labor, and labor rights. Over 20 companies have taken a self-diagnostic on child labor, forced labor, and other labor violations. Based on the diagnostic findings, the project is providing technical assistance to establish improvement plans to improve working conditions.
  • Public sector: over 4,000 public officials were trained on child labor, labor rights, and occupational safety and health. These public servants, including inspectors and other field personnel, now have information and practical tools to identify cases of child labor and channel them appropriately.
  • Education: Through project-supported training, over 500 teachers and administrative staff have gained skills in identifying child labor and supporting social-emotional development. These teachers serve as an additional layer of support for children engaged in or at risk of child labor in target municipalities. In addition, the project established 29 community libraries that have provided access to learning and recreational activities to 2,180 children in these agricultural communities.
MexicoCdE_meval.pdf (926.6 KB)